Saturday, November 15, 2008

I'm Sleeping With Darth Vader!

Mark got his CPAP machine yesterday!

CPAP = Continuous Positive Airway Pressure

A couple of weeks ago, Mark went to the doctor for a minor ailment, and happened to mention that he was TIRED all the time. The doctor asked a couple of questions, and decided to send him for a sleep
analysis at a local "sleep lab". Up until this time, I didn't know such a thing existed! Well, he went for an overnight evaluation, where he was wired up to electrodes and sensors while he slept, and the results indicated that he does indeed have sleep apnea! I am a pretty light sleeper, and for years I have heard him hold his breath at night, at which time I would poke him in the ribs and tell him to "Breathe!" But who knew there was a real medical treatment for that?

The CPAP machine is about the size of a shoebox. A flexible hose connects the machine to clear plastic face mask that covers the nose and mouth, and straps around the head. It works by pushing air into th
e airway at a pre-set pressure, determined by the respiratory technician at the lab, in order to keep the airway open and prevent apnea ( episodes when breathing repeatedly starts and stops).

Mark is SO excited about the possibility of not feeling tired! He said he feels as if his head is in a fog half the time. He is usually fine in the morning, but by mid-afternoon he really starts to drag, and generally falls asleep on the couch every day after work. The doctor described a whole list
of conditions that could be related to sleep deprivation and sleep apnea, so "the machine" is very welcome. But it is kind of "space-age" to get into bed with someone wearing a face mask connected by a long tube to a machine that is humming along - not loudly - sounds pretty much like a humidifier running. When he talks while wearing the mask, he sounds like Darth Vader....


Anonymous said...

I love your humor dear daughter and hope that "Darth Vader" evolves into an energentic, robust, tireless Mark Herbert!
Love you, Dad.

Shaw6pak said...

Personally, I always thought Darth Vader was pretty hot. I like that husky voice. ;) I have other things to say, but I am sure you would prefer me not too.

Joe said...

If that is a picture of the mask Mark is wearing, maybe he should ask for one that does not cover his whole nose, but only feeds air directly into his nostrils. I have one like that, and it has been really trouble-free and makes a minimal change to one's appearance.

I've been a snorer for a long time. As I got older, my snoring has gotten more frequent and louder. I also noticed I was tired a lot and liked to take naps during the day. People complained about my snoring and I could not sleep in the same room with other people for fear of keeping them awake.

Finally, I asked my doctor about the problem. He sent me home with a machine to check my breathing and pulse while I slept. The results really shocked me! The doc said my airway was closing off up to 70 times each hour, and that I stopped breathing for as long as one full minute at a time! I had severe apnea. He strongly recommended I start using the CPAP machine, since I was risking damage to my heart due to lack of oxygen.

I had read about CPAP machines before and always thought I would never be able to sleep with one, since I am somewhat claustrophobic. Surprisingly, it only took me a few minutes to get used to, and I was able to sleep comfortably from the very beginning with no problem.

The mask portion is just a small apparatus that fits on the nostrils to blow in air that keeps the throat inflated, thus preventing any snoring. Straps over the head are a little annoying, but they are necessary to keep the nose piece in place. If one changes sleeping positions at night, it’s possible for these straps to move, causing the nose piece to slip off.

I have been using a Dreamhelmet, a combination sleep mask sound-muffling pillow for years now, for sleeping at night and for napping during the day. I always find it hard to sleep without the Dreamhelmet, and I was afraid I would not be able to use it with the CPAP mask, but I was wrong about that too.

After I slept with the CPAP machine and mask for a short while, I tried wearing the Dreamhelmet over the CPAP, covering up the straps – voila, it worked like a charm! I found that the Dreamhelmet actually helps keep the straps in place when I change positions, so now I can sleep all night in comfort, not being bothered by sound, light, or changing positions. The CPAP and the Dreamhelmet are the perfect sleeping combination for me.

I now wake up rested, and I have energy that lasts all day long. I don’t feel so run down all the time or feel like I need an afternoon nap, but I still carry an extra Dreamhelmet in the car with me just in case I do need a nap.